All children want to be near their elderly parents to take care of them conveniently and be available whenever they need us, but not everyone can live with their parents when they grow up and have their own family. Taking care of the elderly has never been easy, making it even more challenging if you have to take care of them from a distance.
Fortunately, today thanks to the development of technology, you can completely monitor your parents’ lives through tracking devices or contact them at any time.
According to the Family Caregivers Alliance, approximately 34.2 million family caregivers in the US provide unpaid care to elderly relatives, with only 13 to 15% of them caring for a parent or relative of their own. Them from afar, but that still means between 5 and 7 million people struggle to provide long-distance care support to loved ones from afar.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans trying to support long-distance care for an aging loved one, especially an elderly parent who lives alone. Here, we can help; keep reading resTORbio’s article to learn How To Help Aging Parents From Afar?
Who Is a Long-distance Caregiver?
Anybody can become a long-distance caregiver. You are likely a long-distance caretaker if you live more than an hour away from someone who needs your assistance. Long-distance caregivers are those who care for an elderly relative, friend, or parent.
Best Tips For Taking Care Of Parents Long Distance
It’s not always possible to provide long-distance caregivers for a parent or loved one. However, this is not impossible if you have a plan. These are some caregiving tips that will help you put together a plan.
Assess the Situation
Assessing your parent’s health and current living situation is the first thing you should do. You may need to talk to your parents if they live far away.
They might also need to be inspected for their driving ability and ensure that they take care of their own needs. This information will help you to plan for the best living environment and long-term care services they might need.
Include Your Siblings In The Caregiving Process
Siblings should have an open discussion about their parents and loved ones who require extra care. You should all agree on who will take care of which aspects of the loved one’s care.
Consider your strengths and how they can help you organize important paperwork. If you agree that one sibling will handle all the decisions, make sure to keep each other informed.
Seek Support From Friends & Neighbors
It is helpful to have someone on the ground who can provide an honest assessment of your parent’s situation when caring for them from afar.
You can gain a clear picture of your loved one’s health and well-being by connecting with their neighbors and friends people who are close to them every day and whether or not you should enlist additional help at home.
Plan Regular Visits
Even though it might be difficult to plan regular visits home to check in on your loved ones, it is possible to schedule visits every 4-6 weeks. Face-to-face visits are essential for long-distance caregiving.
To make the best care decisions for your loved one, you must assess their current health and determine their care needs. Your visits will bring joy to your loved ones and provide you with something to look forward to.
Use Technology To Stay Connected
Technology, such as Skype or Facetime, can allow you to stay in touch with your loved ones between visits. You can get a better idea of their health and well-being by video chat rather than chatting on the phone.
You might notice that their faces are bruised from a fall at home or that their house seems disorganized. These visual cues can help you make better decisions when caring for an elderly parent.
Enlist Help & Support
It doesn’t matter if you live 20 minutes by car or five hours by plane; being a family caregiver can be difficult. It doesn’t matter how far you live; having help can be helpful when caring for an elderly parent.
To ease the burden on you and make your loved one feel more at home, consider hiring an in-home caregiver. Tandem, a service that can assist with the caregiving of your loved one, can bring you some peace of mind.
Have a Family Meeting
Gather the entire family together, whether in person, by phone, Skype, FaceTime, or Skype. This will help everyone get on the same page. You all must understand the issues and your parent’s wishes.
You can then devise a plan that suits everyone’s schedules and skillsets. So everyone is aware of their responsibilities and can agree on what they should do.
You must have written permission for someone to access financial and medical information. Keep each other informed about any changes or issues once the plan has been established.
What happens if your only child is unable to help or you have siblings who are unable? It will be a small family meeting with you and your parent.
It doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself. See the previous tip. It is possible to arrange for assistance. Be sure to include your parent in this process. These are some ways to start the conversation and reach a consensus.
Have an Emergency Plan
You need to plan in case your loved one is injured or has other urgent needs. It would help if you created a support network of people who can help you when you are gone.
This could include helping with your kids, pets, or your job. A list of contact information and roles should be kept. A travel bag with essential clothes and toiletries might be a good idea.
Ensure Their Safe Environment
The safety of elderly parents is a major concern for caregivers, particularly those caring from far away. It is important to ensure that their environment is safe for them to live in, especially if they are moving.
There are many factors to consider, such as the location of grab bars in a bathroom and kitchen safety, kitchen safety and medical alerts, fall detection devices and anti-slip floor products, driving ability and capacity, and how to care for your pet.
You can ask your parent’s permission to organize the home (sometimes you may have to bend their arm!). You can have a professional organizer come to your home to help you organize it. This will make it safer and easier for your parents to live there.
The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals can help you find professional organizers in your local area.
A certified home safety specialist is another option. They are trained to evaluate and make recommendations for home modifications for seniors. To find a specialist in your area, you can visit Age Safe America.
Gather Local Support Information and Find Care Giving Resources
As a long-distance caregiver, one of your first tasks should be to create a support network for your parents. You can ask your parents’ close friends and relatives to help you keep an eye on them.
You could also hire a home health assistant to check your parents’ medical status and make sure they are getting the right treatment.
Many resources can be used to help older adults today. There are many services available to assist older adults in safely aging at home, including meal delivery and grocery delivery.
Consider Taking Caregiving Classes
You don’t always know what you don’t know, and this is especially true when you’re trying to care for a loved one while you’re in over your head.
Let me tell you a story. My mom was in a wheelchair and had limited strength. Dad was determined to help his mom, but he didn’t have any training in helping a person who uses a wheelchair move from their wheelchair to the toilet or back to bed.
He and Mom both fell several times, and he was able to help Mom by cushioning her and taking the brunt.
He didn’t know how to use his weight to get her standing or how to get her up from the floor.
After he called the paramedics several times, Mom refused to help her anymore and ordered a home health aid.
Search the internet to find classes in your area or view informative videos online. These are just a few to get you started.
The AARP provides video lessons for family caregivers on topics such as getting someone from a car or wheelchair to help them get to safety and how to assist when they fall.
Morningside Ministries has more than 300 caregiver videos online, which can be viewed free of charge.
Family Caregiver Alliance provides a handbook and webinars for caregivers who live far away. You can also find videos in many languages and topics on their YouTube channel.
Living Abroad – How To Help Aging Parents From Afar?
It is difficult to live overseas for work or any other reason, and it can be even more difficult to care for elderly parents.
There is guilt at being far from your loved ones, and there is the added stress of dealing with their healthcare issues or other problems.
Even worse, you may be subject to family tension from siblings and other relatives who live near your parents. They might try to shame or make you move back home.
There are many things you can do to keep your mind clear if this is you.
Talk openly with your parents about their wishes and needs. What are their feelings about moving into assisted living or retirement communities? What are their last wishes should the unthinkable occur?
Before you travel overseas, consult an attorney. These documents could include a Living will, a Medical power of attorney, or a durable power of attorney. You might also need to sign medical authorizations that permit you to be informed about their medical condition.
Make sure your parents’ medical professionals know your contact information. Also, make sure they know the time difference between you and them.
If they call you at the start of their workday and are six hours behind, it won’t help.
You should have a reliable local support system.
Talk to friends and neighbors who are trustworthy to look after your parents. Also, interview home care companies to ensure you have one in case you need it.
These contacts can be used to contact meal services, transportation services, and lawn- or house-cleaning services.
Prepare for an emergency by making sure you have enough money to fly home from overseas.
As we have already mentioned, it is important to record their contact information for their doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, and personal medical information (illnesses and conditions, medications, etc.).
Before you leave, make sure their home is safe. You might do this by installing grab bars in the bathrooms, lighting stairs, putting together mobility aids, clearing clutter, removing throw rugs they could trip on, and making sure that fire extinguishers, automatic shut-off devices, and smoke detectors work.
Your parents may not be able to see you as often as you would like, so set up a video call system, such as Skype or Amazon’s Portal. You can better understand your parents’ physical health and visit them more personally than if you only speak on the phone.
You can check for signs that something is wrong or struggle to cope with something by video calling. You can make them feel less alone while they are away. Video calling can be intimidating for seniors who might not be familiar with modern technology.
They can follow the steps in a step-by-step list so that they don’t have to recall them. My dad, 98, used an iPad. However, in many cases, I had to write how-to lists in great detail to help him get to the places (or the apps) that he desired.
Taking care of your parents is difficult and stressful; it’s worth doing, and it’s probably the only thing you can do for your parents for the rest of their lives. Use the most useful methods to map out a better way to take care of your parents. In the end, the best thing you can do for them is trying to spend more time with them, visit them more, have dinner with them more than you planned.